We talked about the norm and then she asked about how something had gone that I had done a few weeks prior. I opened up and said it didn’t go that well at all. Sharing how I felt about it and why I felt that way. She then said something I don’t think I will ever forget.
“Oh, but your pictures on Instagram didn’t look like that at all. It looked amazing.”
This conversation has stuck with me since and I can’t shake the feeling of how different social media life is to reality. The reality of every day life is not as glamorous as it looks on Instagram, things aren’t always as good as they sound on Facebook, and life isn’t always as fun as it seems on Snapchat.
With the increase in social media usage, I see this becoming more and more of an issue with personal self worth and never-ending comparison. As a social media manager, I see why it’s important to grow a brand and business. And for personal use, it’s a creative outlet to show the people in your life and the world who you are and what you’re doing. I get it. But when did we all become obsessed with how we were perceived online?
If you scrolled through my camera roll, you’d see 20 takes of the same pictures just different poses, angles, and lighting. I take a picture of my food almost every time I’m out to eat. I style and stage photos too look a certain way to get the perfect shot. I know this sounds insane, because honestly, it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy photography, styling shoots, and editing photos. But I get so wrapped up in getting the perfect shot, picking the perfect filter, or stringing along the perfect line of witty words to get the best caption, it’s exhausting.
Now – since my conversation with my friend, I’m becoming more aware of this. I’m letting pictures come when they do and not trying to force life into a beautiful square image to get a lot of likes and comments. I want to be more authentic. Do you?
So here are three ways to overcome this whole social media vs. real life issue:
- Don’t force it – If creativity doesn’t strike or your friends/family aren’t feeling a mini photo shoot, don’t force it. Some of my family and friends get kind of annoyed with me when I take it too far trying to get the best image. The best photos are the ones capturing real life. Not Instagram life. No one cares about your profile more than you do. If you don’t post something or don’t get the ideal shot, no one honestly cares. Isn’t that crazy? No one cares. So care a little less and live a little more.
- Be authentic – If you aren’t portraying who you really are to the world, you’re doing the world a disfavor. Be real and authentic with your online presence. I’ve had the chance to meet people in real life that I first met online which led to some disappointing experiences (I’ve also had really amazing experiences too). I never want that to happen in my case. I want to be so transparent and real online that when people see or meet me in real life, it’s like they are seeing the same person. Be true to who you are and use YOUR voice. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Just be YOU! This includes sharing the bad in life, not just the good. It’s easy to post a photo of you at a girls night out looking like you’re having a blast, but if you’re not, don’t post it with a caption saying, “best night ever.” Be real.
- Use intention when posting – A good question that arises with this: Why do you use social media? What is its purpose in your life? Don’t get caught up in the online comparison game because you will never win. I know it’s easy to post a picture of you with your new love interest on Snapchat, just to make your ex jealous, but that never ends well. Get to the root of why you use the social media platforms that you do. I use Instagram as a creative photo diary to capture my life and experiences on a daily basis. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t post things just to get likes or a high engagement. But I’m really challenging myself, and you, to focus on posting with intention. Ask yourself the question “why” before you post a picture or a status update. This will weed out all the things you most likely shouldn’t post.
The digital world is booming and it’s going to continue to grow, with no signs of slowing down. What should slow down in life is us. Let’s stop and enjoy life for ourselves instead of creating the perfect online life for everyone else to enjoy.